Estate: Descending from more than 7 generations of wine growers, Michele Chiarlo began producing wine in 1956 with a philosophy of only using indigenous grapes. He was a pioneering force in establishing a market for the fine wines of Piedmont. Always an innovator, he was one of the first producers to use methods such as limiting yields and decreasing maceration time in order to create a soft, more traditional style of Barolo. With 148 estate acres and an additional 50 acres, he has achieved ownership of the most acclaimed and prestigious vineyards in Piedmont, from Barbera to Barolo to Barbaresco. Still very active in the estate, Michele’s son Stefano now overseas all of the winemaking and continues the estate’s title as one of the leaders in Barolo and Barbera wines. There are offerings for every price point and appetite, from $10 to $200.
Winemaking: Grapes are sourced from vineyards in the southern area of the Asti province, especially in the hills around Nizza Monferrato. Aged in large French oak casks for 8 months.
Tasting Notes: Transparent garnet in colour with a hint of sage, dusty earth and floral aromas. An herbaceous streak illuminates tart blackberry and cherry flavours. Silky tannins and clean minerals gloss the clean, fruit finish. Tart, but balanced, this a fantastic expression of food friendly, versatile Barbera.
Pairing Suggestions from the Winery: Pairs well with a wide range of dishes: chicken scallopini with sage and wild mushrooms, farfalle pasta with pork sausage and broccoli rabe and grilled or roasted red meats.
Barbera d’Asti Superiore
Bottled by Michele Chiarlo
Rated 88 points by Wine Enthusiast
Estate: Marchesi di Barolo consists of 430 acres of vineyards located in the distinguished Barolo region of Piedmont in Italy. Their vineyards are in some of the most renowned areas of Barolo, including the prestigious Cannubi cru. 185 acres are estate owned, with 245 acres farmed by long standing relationships with family and friends. The family estate has been passed down from parents to their children for over 200 years and is currently headed by 5th generation winemakers Anna and Ernesto Abbona. They maintain the work established by their ancestors and value the great heritage of knowledge and tradition that allows them to continue crafting quality wines.
Winemaking: Grapes are sourced from sustainably farmed vineyards located in the community of Maranzana in the Asti area. The soil is calcareous sand, clay, and rich in quartz. Aged for 1 year in Slavonian oak barrels. The name Maraia refers to “a group of rowdy kids, or ‘little rascals’, in Piedmontese dialect, referring to the lively nature of this wine”.
Tasting Notes: Transparent garnet in colour with aromas of cherry, sour cherry, sweet wild flowers, and pepper spice. Rhubarb along with tart, sour and regular cherry interlace with silky tannins. Mouth puckering acidity backs tart blackberry and sour cherry on the dry finish. A bit too astringent for my personal taste, others may find it refreshing with fatty foods.
Pairing Suggestions from the Winery: Pairs well with a wide variety of dishes, from antipasto to pasta with red sauce and light meals.
Barbera Del Monferrato DOC
Bottled by Marchesi Di Barolo
Winery: Located in Lombardy, northern Italy, Cantina di Casteggio is a cooperative that was established in 1907 by a 100 grape-growers. Their goal was to create a consolidated winemaking center that could represent the entire group of growers. In 2008 they merged with another cooperative, Cantina di Broni, which added 85 more growers and large vineyard plots of 25 acres, therefore increasing production capabilities.
Winemaking: Grapes were sourced from 15 year old vines growing in calcareous and clay soils. Aged in stainless steel tanks.
Tasting Notes: Transparent dark garnet in colour with plush aromas of raspberry, woods, black pepper and leather. Concentrated cherry flavours are laced with earthy summerwoods and peppery spices. Food friendly acidity brightens every sip, a hint of sour cherry lingers on the dry finish. A fantastic companion to a wide variety of dishes.
Wine Pairing Suggestions from the Winery: “A wine that can be drunk throughout the meal, which also goes particularly well with richly flavored dishes, roasts, grilled meats and cheeses.”
Oltrepo’ Pavese DOC
Bottled by Cantina di Casteggio
Estate: Ettore Seghesio founded the winery in 1964. Located in Monforte region of Piedmont, northwestern Italy, the 9.5 hectare estate is today headed by Ettore’s son Aldo, along with his sons Sandro and Marco, and his daughter, Michela. The winery is known for its excellent value, “deep, concentrated and bursting with fruit” Dolcetto and Barbera.
Winemaking: The family strives to preserve the “natural resources in rural areas through agricultural and environmental measures”. Sustainable and integrated methods are used in both the vineyards and cellar. Chemicals are not used, only sulfur and copper-based products when necessary. Very low amounts of sulphur are added during winemaking. Grapes were sourced from vineyards with tuff and clay soils.
Tasting Notes: Deep ruby-red in colour with aromas of fresh berries, baking spice and a hint of licorice. Tart fruits [think cranberry, red currant and blackberry] join silky tannins and soft spice. Clean sour cherry notes linger refreshingly between each sip. A simple, fruity glass fantastic with everyday dishes.
Estate Bottled by Azienda Vitivinicola di Seghesio Aldo e Riccardo
Aromatic, fruity, dry with silky tannins, consistently one of my favorite Barbera d’Asti.
Estate: Founded by brothers Pico and Vitaliano Maccario in 1997 with the land they inherited from their grandfather, the estate is located on the hillsides in the province of Asti 600 feet above sea level. The 70 hectare vineyard is one single, contiguous parcel and is the largest single-block vineyard in the entire Piedmont region. The rose is the symbol of their winery; there are over 4500 rose bushes on the estate, all of the same clone, and one planted at the head of each vine row. According to the brothers, the rose symbolizes “the twin themes of passion and rebirth, it has been said that it possesses the virtue of being able to repair the damage done while drunk and by the indiscreet, revelatory consequences of the alcohol”. The Villa della Rosa line “features high quality, attention to presentation, and easy availability on the market”. Produced with only estate grown grapes, this is their entry level line.
Winemaking: Grapes were sourced from soils that are very high in clay, which imparts a “full body and a silky texture”. Aged for 7 months in stainless steel to “preserve the freshest fruit flavors”, then an additional 5 months in the bottle.
Tasting Notes: Red-violet in colour, very aromatic with raspberry and strawberry notes. Bright fruit flavours of strawberry and raspberry echo the aroma; silky tannins highlight chocolate hints on the earthy, dry finish. Simple, with an easy drinking balance between bright fruit and the dry finish, fantastic with a wide variety of dishes.
Barbera d’Asti DOCG
Estate Bottled by Pico Maccario s.s. agr